*The following is a post taken from The Angry Bench Coach, my new blog. Please visit the site there at www.theangrybenchcoach.com.*
The following piece is a column from one of our guest writers, Geoff, who runs the Bleeding Pinstripes. Visit his site and give him the TABC bump.
First let’s get up to speed on where we are.
My thought going into the recent brutal road trip, and even the few
series’ before (Boston, Minnesota, Anaheim, Baltimore) was that the
Yankees season would take shape by the time they got back.
Not good news.
And last week I was screaming
for the Yankees to send Melky down to triple A, as I saw his usefulness
solely as an outfielder and a pinch runner; two roles I felt Brett
Gardiner was better suited for. And I was railing against starting
Richie Sexson against lefties, preferring to see him strictly used as a
pinch hitter. So what happens next? Melky gets demoted, Gardiner is
recalled, and Sexson is waived.
Sounds a bit off. I’m contradicting myself. But the truth is – what do
I know? Nothing. I was the guy screaming for Tony Womack to get more
playing time in ’05; that Robinson Cano was a useless rookie. I was the
guy saying that Posada was going to fade last year and end up at .270.
That David Archuleta was going to get voted off the second week of
American Idol because he was such a drippy little wuss. I shouldn’t be
right. This can’t be good…
So what are the Yanks’ chances? If
you ask me, it always comes down to one key thing. Schedule. It’s huge
before the season even starts. Look at the Yankees. Every year they
play the Angels ten times. And always predominantly on the road. Like
clockwork. It’s a marquee match-up, and the Angels are the one and only
team that have had the Yankees’ number. You think MLB is going to pass
that up? Since the days of the unbalanced schedule, there is only one
team outside of their division that the Yankees have played ten times.
Yup. And it happens almost every year. And it’s not just the Yankees.
The schedule tells a lot of tales before the first pitch on the first
Sunday night. Look at the Mets. Every year they play six brutal games
against the Yankees. They lost the NL East to the Phillies on the last
day of the season last year. Do you think the Phillies still would have
pulled that off if they were forced to play the Yankees six times while
the Mets got to kick around Baltimore and whoever else? How about the
Blue Jays? They were way better than the Cardinals when the final out
was called on the 2006 regular season. Better record, better team, you
name it. They just had the misfortune of being fed to the Yankees and
Red Sox 38 times. So the Jays don’t even approach the playoffs, and the
Cardinals get a shot at upset glory. While we’re at it, the Red Sox
might be the best example. Good enough to win two World Championships
in four years, good enough to elicit whispers of “dynasty?” around the
sports world. Imagine. They’ve only won their own division once in the
last thirteen years. And even that was on the strength of exactly one
swing game with the mighty Yankees. Point is, the schedule is huge. And
it gets more huge as the games get ticked off and teams make moves to
shore themselves up for the stretch run as we hit the last weeks of
So with that said, the theme for the last twenty-three
Yankee games was to simply hang on. This looked to be their most
difficult stretch of the season. Three at Boston, three against
Minnesota, four against LA, three against Baltimore, four at Texas,
three more at LA, and three in Minnesota to close it. Twenty-three
brutal games. And as I said, it didn’t exactly go swimmingly. They were
10-7 in the first 17. Then they needed to grasp and clutch for some
wins while Boston and Tampa played the Royals and Seattle, over and
over. They didn’t. They lost 5 of 6, with the lone win coming in 12
innings. So now they’re a big pile of games behind Boston and a big
pile of games behind Tampa.
So what’s next. Tampa is going to
lose. Probably a lot. Tampa is not a good road team. They’ve been good
lately, but that’s mostly because they’ve played the Royals, the
Mariners, and the recently castrated A’s. They did a great job of
seizing on a bizarre schedule that featured a lopsided number of early
games at home. When they get back East they’re going to lose. They’re
going to lose to the Yankees and they’re going to lose to the Red Sox.
Especially since they’ve been riddled with injuries that aren’t going
to get better. The problem is they’re so far out in front it might not
matter. To the Yankees, anyway. I think the Red Sox are going to catch
them. The Red Sox aren’t going to lose any ground. They don’t play well
on the road either, but they’re a veteran team that has incredible
resilience and knows how to win. They’re loaded with tough outs and
they’re never out of a ballgame. But they’ve also been bitten by
injuries, which is going to keep them from the World Series, but I
think they win the East.
So can the Yankees catch the Rays and
everyone else in front of them for the Wildcard? They could. But it’s
going to be so difficult to make up all that ground. On paper they are
more talented than anybody outside of the Red Sox and the Angels. And
they, too, are a proud veteran team that always seems to find a gear to
get there. I think they need to get Hughes back healthy (I’m not even
going to mention Pavano, because that truly would be hilarious), and
they need to get Joba back healthy. And if they get the Ferocious Lion,
Hideki Matsui, back in any meaningful way, they could make a run. The
schedule includes lots of Boston (always difficult but never scary for
the Yankees this time of year), and three more against the Angels
(0-3). Other than that there are a lot of winnable games against
Bottom line: unlikely. Not impossible, but unlikely.
probably looking at the Angels feeding on the hapless National League
to give Mike Scoscia his second piece of Orange County hardware.
Probably. But probably isn’t definitely. That’s why they play the
games, as the old saying goes. What I can say definitely, is that my
boys and I will be waving the flag in section 24 at the Stadium until
the last pitch is thrown. Right until the end.
And we’ll be rooting like hell for the Yankees to win the World Series.
Finally back from Chicago – this time for good. It was arough three weeks, really. I haven’t been able to follow much of baseball at
all, so it’s gonna be tough getting back into the swing of things. Luckily, I
have four days off* – in a row! – so that should make it a little easier. I
haven’t had that much vacation time from work and school for more than a year. Anyway, hopefully we’ll look at getting the website and podcast started up in the next week, both of which are obviously long overdue. As for today’s post – and we will be back to the normal daily post routines (except for weekends, which are always a little touch and go,) I’m going to talk about a few things that are less-than-current, since, well… as I said before, I haven’t been following the game as intently as I should be the last three weeks. But I’m going to try to hit on each division. Well, let’s go.
*- Not true. Got called in to work on Sunday for 5 hours.
How about the Tigers? Are they actually
for real? The White Sox have won nine in a row, and are still in second place
in the AL Central. And the Tigers have 51 wins in late June. That’s a September
number, not a June number. It’s looking like, barring a major collapse, the
Tigers may be going to the playoffs this year. Shh, it’s still early. See, the BPS will tell you that the Tigers aren’t going to the playoffs this year because they’ve had an easy schedule. Here’s the thing. In any
case, the AL Central is already a race for third. Minnesota has won nine of
their last 10 games – and are still 11 games back. Cleveland is 17 back with a
record of 33-41 – hardly what I expected from a club I
said could make a legitimate run at a playoff spot this season. And the
Royals… oh the Royals. They’re 23-50, good for 26 games back. However, the
standings reveal that they’ve won seven of their last 10. Are you kidding? When
I left for Chicago three weeks ago, I don’t think the Royals even had seven
wins total. What
a bad team… Finally, it looks as though – for now – we might actually see an AL Central team take the wild card. This is special only because, for the last several years, the Wild Card has been the Red Sox’s ticket to the post season. The fact that that this may not happen is, to me, remarkable. Then again, there’s a lot of that going around this year, (see NL East.)
Things look pretty much the same as they did when I left. We’re 2.5 games back,
with a bunch of guys still on the DL. The Sox are on an 8-game win streak, and
as soon as they drop that and get cold, they can sit back and watch the crowd
go by. Meaning, we’ll fly right into first place. Toronto is just four games
back, which is impressive – considering they have been without one of their
biggest free-agent signees, A.J. Burnett. Is he still afraid of throwing the
ball, or what’s going on with him? Halladay – your 2006 Cy Young Winner, I
maintain – has been on his usual tear throughout the League. He’s 9-2 and has
won eight of his last nine decisions. Because I’ve been away from my computer for so long, I can’t offer much insight on the Yankees and Red Sox – like I said earlier, it looks much the same as it did to me three weeks ago. The Sox have won 8 straight and they’re only 2.5 games up. That’s a 3-day lead. Nothing too special, and it is only June – lest we forget. I hear that Gary and Matsui both received promising news, (whatever that may be,) and as soon as they get back we should start running away with the division – again.
Apparently the clubs in the NL West had a talk with those in the AL West. ‘Look, if you play bad, we’ll play bad, and no one will look bad.’ All 9 teams in the two West divisions have records below .550, (about 41 wins.) The A’s (SI’s 2nd best team going into the year,) are 41-34, for first place in the AL/NL West. The Angels are last, with a 34-41 (.453) record. In other words, there are no great teams, but there are no immensely terrible teams either. Now, there are a few ways to look at this. One is to say that all the teams are slightly above-average, and so they’re just beating up on each other. This is not true. Rather, all 9 teams are extremely mediocre and while there is no runaway, (such as the Tigers or White Sox,) there are no terrible teams either, such as the Royals or Pirates. See, this is pure luck. All the teams happen to be average teams. Great, what’s that get you? Average attendance, and below-average performance against the other teams in the league. Spectacular.
But to get into some detail; the Angels have totally collapsed this year. Their offense, which used to be great, (think about two or three years ago,) is now in a complete state of disarray. They’ve scored 339 runs, 2nd to last in the league – behind, who else, but the KC Royals, with 313. And you can’t point to Vlad and say that his numbers have declined, he’s aged, he can’t carry the team anymore. No one has said it yet, but I’m sure they will before the end of the year. Well, here are the facts – Vlad, who recently turned 30, is seeing some decline in his numbers. So we’re halfway through the year, and he has 10 doubles. In 2004, he hit 40. In 2005, when he only played 141 games due to a shoulder injury he suffered while making a stupid slide at home, he hit 30. And now he’s on pace to hit 20. But that’s all pointless. The truly interesting stats, for him, are his OBP and AVG. Vlad’s career OBP is .387, yet it is just .326 so far this year. His average is at .290, down from his typical .322. His slugging is at .490, a significant drop from his career.581. But, back to the original question – is Vlad aging, or is something else happening? I think it’s a little bit of both. His numbers – which aren’t really that much lower – are probably the result of playing on a poor team as much as they are of being older. And now you say, ‘but the Angels aren’t that bad.’ Maybe not, but they’re terrible if you look at their expectations. People are asking questions and attendance is (probably) down. Either way, that makes for a bad vibe in the clubhouse, if you will. And that, I believe, only makes matters worse – it makes it harder to perform when everyone is asking you why you aren’t. A bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you will.
Meanwhile, in the NL West, we have… today it is… the Dodgers, on top with a 40-35 record. As has been previously stated on numerous occasions at BHGM, they can pretty much start printing playoff tickets now. 5 Games above .500? That’s a mountain the rest of the division really can’t climb.
Well, I’m not sure what’s going on here. I know that when I left three weeks ago, the Braves were about 5 games back of the Mets. Maybe, I really don’t know. The Marlins were the second-worst team in MLB, behind the Royals. Now, and follow me closely here, they’re 8 games back of .500 and in 3rd place. Now, forget for a moment that the Mets are so far out in front that third place (13.5 games back,) second place (11.5 games back,) and fifth place, (15.5 games back,) are all the same. Try to forget about that. Now, the Marlins are in third, and they’re 32-40. Seriously, they must have won every game they played since I left for Cincinnati (and then for Chicago,) four weeks ago. In fact, on June 1st – the date I left – the Marlins were 17-34. So, in 25 days, they’ve won 15 games and lost 6. What a clip! Meanwhile, the Braves went from 28-26 and 5 games back to 32-44. That means they’ve gone 4-18. How far away is Atlanta from Kansas City, exactly?
Well here’s another interesting story that I would’ve liked to include closer to the NL West, but it just didn’t work out that way. Regular readers already know what I’m about to bring up, but here goes. Name one of two players the Pirates received when they traded away a fellow named "Jason Schmidt" in 2001. Answer: Ryan Vogelsong. The other player was Armando Rios, who started 55 games for the Pirates. Anyway, back to Ryan Vogelsong. He was never a good pitcher, but he has remained on the Pirates roster. And now, CBS Sportsline has the following to say about him in their nifty fantasy notes:
RHP Ryan Vogelsong, who has allowed at least one baserunner in each of
his 20 relief appearances, did not pitch in the weekend series at Los
Analysis: Vogelsong should only be active in
leagues that reward negative play. Even there, the fact that he is not
being used makes him obsolete.
Could you be any tougher on the guy? He’s a stud on the negative play team. Great. Then again, his career ERA is 5.86, and you gave up Jason Schmidt to get him. Surprisingly enough, Dave Littlefield, who made the deal to acquire Ryan, is still the GM in Pittsburg. Now, is there any stronger way for the Pirates to tell their fans they have no desire to win than by keeping Littlefield around? During his 5-year reign, the Pirates have consistently been one of the worst teams in the league. In 2001, they rang in the brand new PNC Park by losing 100 games. In 2002, it was 89 games. 2003 was 87, and 2004 was 89. in 2005, in was 95 games. They’ve gone nowhere, and are currently riding an 11-game losing streak as they head in to play the White Sox and Tigers. At least the Pittsburg fans have the All Star game to look forward to… that game counts for more than possibly any other game ever played at PNC Park. That is, the AL will be taking home field advantage again.
And how about the Cardinals – they’ve quietly, (since no one ever wants to gang up on the Cardinals, and for good reason – how would you feel if you lived in Missouri?) gone on a 6-game losing streak. That puts them at 42-32, and only two games up of the Reds. It’s interesting that when Derrek Lee went down, everyone talked about how silly the Cubs were for centering their offense around one guy. No one seemed to notice that the Cardinals were centered on the same philosophy. Oh, that’s right. The Cardinals have a strong supporting staff for Albert on the bench, and they also have pitching. Unless the Cubs define Kerry Wood and Mark Prior as ‘pitching,’ there is a difference. Both Pujols and Lee are now back, by the way. However, that doesn’t mean that the Cubs’ season isn’t over, because it still is. The latest news on Kerry Wood – and this is an accurate quote, I didn’t make this up – an MRI on Wood’s shoulder revealed "no significant concerns or any kind of significant issue or injury or anything like that… the MRI, in Dr. Kremchek’s terms, stated it was pristine, that the labia repair looked as if it was completely intact, looked like it had healed nicely and perfectly," said Cubs trainer Mark O’Neal. Yet, ‘there is still no timetable for his return.’ So let me get this straight; Wood went to the doctor, and the doctor told him he was perfectly healthy, and that everything was in order. In fact, it was perfect and pristine. Yet, no one has any idea how much longer it will be before he pitches again. Is this some sort of joke?
Anyway, that’s the wrap up for the divisions. It took me Friday night, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday to write this, so some of it may be out of date – but I did my best. In any case, I’m going to try to get back into the groove. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, and I’m mostly running around all day. But we should be completely back to normal in about a week I think. Anyway, that’s it for now. It’d be nice to see some comments but I can understand if we don’t have the readers back yet. See you tomorrow, I hope!
Today was a big day for BHGM. For starters, we passed 500 hits today. Next, we’ve got the comments. As always, comments are a lot of fun for me. I like to see you guys work. For example, in the chat box, we’ve got the following exchange between Kevin and Jorge:
Jorge: andres torres quiero que suba ya para grandes ligas el es el mejor te queremos aguada puertorico. andres torres es el mejor.
Kevin: Si, Andres Torres es mi jugador de beisbol favorita. El es el hombre. Me amo Andres! Yo Recibi un 4.0 en espanol este ano!
See if you can guess the native speaker here. I took two years of Spanish back in high school. I’ve been out of contact with the language for about three years. I can tell you that Jorge said something about wanting Andres Torres, for major leagues in Puerto Rico, maybe. I’m really confused actually. As for Kevin, "Yes, Andres Torres is my favorite baseball player. He is the man. I love Andres Torres! I got a 4.0 in Spanish last year!" Anyway, if anyone can decode Jorge’s thoughts, leave a message. Additionally, we finally got one of those mysterious regular readers to chime in with a comment; welcome to Kevin II. Kevin II, until I get a last initial from you, that’s how it’s going to be. Check out last night’s full comments. Anyway, a couple of days ago I promised an overview of possible starting pitchers that the Yankees could acquire. I’ve said that this is, without a doubt, the deal they need to make. In any case, I had written about half of this before I accidentally refreshed the browser and lost it all. Me losing my work is kind of like a sort of classical conditioning. For the next two weeks, I’ll save a copy of each post into Word every minute. Then I’ll get lax about it, because nothing has happened. Four days later, I’ll lose a post. Anyway, on with the baseball. Oh yeah, and, the funniest thing you will ever see in your entire life will be found at the end of tonight’s post.
As mentioned before, we’re here to talk about possible candidates for a starting pitching position with the Yankees. Updates from April 26th, 2007, are in bold. Feel free to read these in a Wonder Years Epilogue Voice.
- Livan Hernandez, WAS: Livan has been having a less-than-stellar year so far. He has an ERA of 5.19 and a WHIP of 1.52. In short, he’s not earning his $8 million salary. Hernandez also stands to make $7 million next year. If new ownership believes that he is not worth what he’s getting paid, they’ll move him. Few teams need pitching badly enough to make a move for Livan, besides the Yankees. With their attendance falling as fast as their rank in the standings – actually, they’ve been in 2nd to last place all year, while their attendance keeps falling – the Nationals and their new owners need to make a move. The team will be officially out of contention by July, and it’s possible Livan could be moved for cash and a couple minor league prospects. Livan Hernandez never really got his stuff back, and was traded to Arizona, where he currently resides with a 3.96 ERA and $7,000,000 salary.
- Jason Schmidt, SF: If I had to make one pick for who I thought would be wearing pinstripes by year’s end, it would be Schmidt. He is currently in his contract year, and is known to have significant issues with the San Francisco front office. It’s highly unlikely that he will return to the Giants in 2007. Furthermore, the Giants have revealed that they will not even bother discussing a contract with Schmidt until the conclusion of the season – that is, if he’s still around. Schmidt has bounced back from an awful 2005 campaign, and now has a 3.07 ERA (18th best in MLB) and 1.04 WHIP (5th best.) However, he is making $10.5 Million this year, and few teams would be willing to pick up such a contract unless they absolutely had to have his services this year to contend. Again, the Yankees are one of the only teams that fit this description. If the Giants are out of contention by July, it is very likely that they’ll move Schmidt – and remember, he’ll likely command more money next year. Jason Schmidt did not return to San Francisco. He finished 2006 with the Giants and a 3.59 ERA. He signed with the Dodgers and is now making $16 million.
- Brad Radke and Carlos Silva, MIN: Both are trade candidates, but not necessarily to the Yankees. Radke and Silva have both had ‘bad’ years – Radke’s ERA is 7.44, Silva’s is at 8.24. However, there is clearly something bothering them both. Perhaps they’ll get on track soon. Meanwhile, Silva is currently pitching from the pen, while Radke has given up at least 4 runs in every start this year (10), with the exception of one against (who else) the Royals. The Twins are, as I said earlier in the year, still rebuilding. They just don’t know it. Right now, the Twins cheap, mini-market formula no longer works. Rookie pitchers have a better ERA and record vs. the Twins in the last 5 years than against any other team. It could be a coincidence, but it could also be that the Twins aren’t scouting. In the first matchup, the pitcher typically has the advantage over the hitter; scouting can help out, but only if you do it. Back to Radke and Silva. If the Twins believe that they can get prospects for the two, they’ll do so. The organization has various pitchers in the pipeline, (Boof, Liriano, etc,) but they could use help with the bats – they have consistently fallen short of the offensive production necessary of a contending team in recent years. If the Yankees are willing to give up hitters and take a chance on Radke and Silva, they may end up in New York. I don’t think it will happen. Sadly, Brad Radke never did pull it together. The 2006 season was his last. The Twins stuck by Carlos Silva, and he finished the season with an ERA of 5.94. He seems to have it together this year, pulling a 2.74 ERA in 4 games.
- Jason Johnson, CLE: I said so before the season began, and I’ll say it again. Jason Johnson is not a good pitcher. He is, in fact, a very bad pitcher. Right now, he has a 6.52 ERA and 1.78 WHIP. Terrible, awful, numbers. The Yankees would not pay $1 for Jason Johnson, but I enjoyed kicking him on the way out. Johnson continued to be bad, and was designated for assignment by the Indians, but was acquired by the Red Sox. He pitched in 6 games for them, and managed a 7.36 ERA. He was then optioned to Class A, which is where we lost track of him. He spent some time in Cincinnati, pitching 4 games in relief.
Other pitchers that could be seen – Bruce Chen, BAL. Barry Zito, OAK. But only if Oakland is amazingly far out of contention, and even then, it would take a miracle, as the Yankees have very little to offer. I think that we’ll see someone like a Noah Lowry type, in the end. Overall, however, the pitching market is very weak this year; many teams are running around with 4-man rotations, forced into spot-starting different pitchers. The Yankees, Royals, Rangers, Braves, Nationals, Brewers, Cubs – all need pitchers. Furthermore, many teams with arms to offer are in contention now. However, a lot will change by mid-July, and that’s when we’ll be getting down to the wire. Meanwhile, the above is clearly not an exhaustive list, and I welcome all suggestions. On with the night’s news.
- The Marlins beat the Mets. And the Royals beat the Yankees. You can expect the world to explode any minute now. How did this happen? Isn’t there someone in a control room somewhere, with his hand on an abort button? Two teams with a combined 24-66 record beat two teams with a combined record of 54-37. The Royals alone lost nearly as many games (35) as both the Mets and Yankees combined. If we needed any more evidence at how poor that team is. As for the Yankees game, they almost, almost, blew it again. As in, runners on 1st and 3rd for the Yankees with 1 out and Giambi up, bottom of the 9th, 7-6. Listen Jason, if you’re swinging on 2 strikes just to avoid the K, don’t. Strike out, and A-Rod comes to the plate with 2 outs. Stupid. If you live in New York City, batten down the hatches, stock up on various supplies, and prepare yourselves – it could be a long night. Oh yeah, almost forgot. Jeter hit #2,000. And of course, leave it to the Royals to let it happen on what was pretty much an error.
- The Tigers won, again. They’ve won 7 straight games, on the heels of winning 7 straight. And how’s this for weird: since I returned from school on May 10th, the Tigers have lost one game – the only game I attended, on May 19th. Had they not lost that one game, they’d be riding a 15-gamer right now. The White Sox lost today, pushing the Tigers 2.5 games ahead. However, Mike Maroth – who had, probably, a ‘bad’ afternoon yesterday – was placed on the DL today, with elbow irritation. I don’t like this one bit; I described Maroth as the solid, 4.50 ERA, 200 inning guy before the season started. Seems like the clock has struck midnight on that one.
- Brandon Webb is to pitchers what Albert Pujols is to Men. Webb won again today, pushing his record to 8-0. Read that again – he has started 11 games. He has won 8. His ERA is 2.13. He has walked 9 batters, and struck out 53. He has a WHIP of 1.08. He has two shutouts. See, I did not know Brandon Webb was this good. He pitches for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Randy Johnson, in the now-famous example, went 16-14 with them in 2004 after recording a 2.60 ERA and 290 K’s. Brandon is now on pace to win 24 games. If he does accomplish this feat, well, I’m not sure what will happen. He went 14-12 last year, so maybe the consequences won’t be too dire. But, just to be on the safe side… where’s that guy with the abort button?
- Your National League MVP, Albert Pujols. Yeah, big surprise there. Pujols has 58 RBIs and 23 HR. You know, there’s really nothing new on this front. I just wanted to, you know, do the whole Albert Pujols thing again… I’ll stop now.
- Has anyone been paying attention to the Angels as they stink up the joint? They’re on quite a tear of bad playing right now. First off, star Bad Player Jeff Weaver, whom I denounced many years ago. Weaver has an ERA of 6.99. He has 7 losses. He has given up 72 hits and 13 walks in 55.1 IP. By all accounts, he is not good. Yet the Angels signed him anyway. Dear Angels – this is 100% your fault. Jeff Weaver didn’t get bad. What actually happened, see, is that you gave too much money to a guy who, through some mind trick, was able to convince you that he could pitch – despite extensive evidence to the contrary. What were you thinking? Maybe Jim Bowden had a one-day stint at the helm. They’re now on a 3-game winning streak, but, you know how that stuff goes.
- Jason Schmidt just left his game against the Rockies in the 9th inning after allowing 4 hits, striking out 6, and walking 3. His ERA is now down to 2.78. I drafted him in the 94th overall pick in my Roto league… right before Brandon Webb. Waiver wire pickups for that team include Jeff Kent (some idiot dropped him, and I scooped him right up,) Alex Rios, Hanley Ramirez, Brandon Phillips, Pedro Feliz, Scott Kazmir, Mike Mussina, Bronson Arroyo, and Aaron Harang. It’s a 7-team league, if you hadn’t picked up on that already. Of course, most of the players were picked up about 5 weeks ago.
Thats all for today. We may see another post tomorrow night. But it’s gonna be short, guys. And uh, kids these days. They really like to set up basketball rims by their trampolines and basically dunk like Michael. Here’s the thing – jumping too high can sometimes be a bad thing. Things can happen when you jump over the rim that, well, shouldn’t happen. Observe… ("Oww…Oww…" "Somebody get someone!… You ok?") Get well soon, Barbaro! By the way, when we’re injured, can we not lay motionless and moan? What happened to walking it off? It would also be nice if this kids friends hadn’t run away and abandoned him to the elements. Although, the cameraman laughing at him is perfectly acceptable behavior.
Two things we’ll be covering tonight. The first will be the state of the Yankees, as that has been a recently neglected topic, on here at least. Thing number two will be other stuff. I had some family obligations tonight and didn’t have a chance to do much. Anyway, here’s the state of the Yankees for right now.
The injury report has about as many names on it as the Vietnam Memorial. On the DL are Octavio Dotel, Tanyon Sturtze, Hideki Matsui, Bubba Crosby, Gary Sheffield, Shawn Chacon, and Carl Pavano. Dotel should be returning soon, within a month or two. Sheffield is days away. Shacon is looking at mid-June. Crosby is out until early-June. Sturtze is out for the season, Matsui is out for most of it, and Pavano is, for the most part, no longer a professional baseball player. Meanwhile, Damon is playing with a broken foot, Bernie is playing with "something busted in his rump," and Farnsworth has a tight back. Meanwhile, Randall and Small are both pitching far below where they were expected to this season. So who’s healthy? Melky Cabrera is the healthiest outfielder we’ve got, although Damon hurt is probably just as good. A-Rod, Jeter, Giambi, Cano, Moose, Wang, and even Wright are all go. Mike Myers is fine. Ron Villone and Scott Procter are doing pretty good in the pen, but the two mystery spots there are Scott Erickson and Colter Bean. In any case, the clear problems right now are with the outfield (and therefore, the offense,) and with the starting pitching.
For the immediate future, the most important problem is the outfield. You can always plug in a AAA-er to run the field, but you won’t be able to replace the offensive production you get from guys like Gary and the Lion. Luckily, Gary is coming back, and that lightens the load considerably. You can have Gary in right every day, and between Damon, Bernie, Melky, Reese, and Bubba, you can fill the two remaining spots on the field. And, of course, send Terrence Long back to wherever he came from – the Yankees are his 4th team in 4 years. Anyone with a slugging percentage, of .378 does not belong on this team. Say, is there a Mendoza Line for slugging? Maybe, .350? Anyway, the bottom line with the outfield is that help is on the way, in the form of Gary Sheffield’s return. He can bring back some of the RBI’s and runs this lineup needs to get going again, and fill an outfield spot that will allow us to take a weak bat like Kevin Reese out of the lineup. When Damon improves, as he no doubt will soon, you’ve got 2/3 of the outfield back. You can always trot Bernie out there, or Melky, Crosby (when he returns,) et al. Basically, the hottest bat gets sent out to left. The DH can be used to rotate whoever is feeling sore. Sub Miguel Cairo, Andy Phillips, or the aforementioned outfielders in, and you’re alright. Not as great as having Hedeki every day, but do-able.
That is, if we can get the starting pitching on track. Without that, we’re nothing. Currently, the Yankee rotation consists of four guys. No joke. Randall, Moose, Wang, Wright. Randall is so far gone it’s sick. As I’ve said before, I don’t know if he’s ever coming back. I was afraid this would happen last year, but I was relieved when I was, for the most part, proven wrong. But this year, Randall is out of the Magic Dust. Moose is dominating hitters right now. Hopefully, he keeps it up for the remainder. Wang was creepy earlier in the year, but now looks to be on track. However, we need to remember that he is, in fact, only Chien-Ming Wang – he’s not some seasoned veteran with years of experience behind him. Wright seems to have shaped up a little since coming off the DL and making a fool of himself. Keep in mind, the dude has only made 5 starts so far, and he only made 13 last year. Clearly, he’s going to need some time to recondition. In his last three starts, dating back to May 3rd, Wright has a 3.63 ERA, 17.1 IP, 14 hits, 10 K’s, 5 walks, and a 1-1 record. As long as he can run out there for 6-7 innings, (I’m not a fan of the 6 innings and done stuff, by the way,) and give the team a chance to win, (preferably by way of holding the opposing offense to somewhere south of 3 runs,) we’re good. As for the number 5 starter – I think this is where Cashman will make a deal, if he does. It’s clear that Randall isn’t who he used to be, and he is unlikely to return next year, (the way I understand it, Johnson is only signed through the end of this season, no?) Shacon has had trouble all year. Small isn’t looking very dependable, and Pavano might as well be dead. Therefore, you’re looking at, say, 3 quality guys right now. And you’re still gonna need one next year, which is what makes a trade that much more attractive. In fact, I can almost say with 100% certainty that we’ll be dealing for some sort of pitcher. With pitching as weak as it has been lately, it might not be a big name, but it will be someone, like a Shawn Chacon v2005.
I hope everyone can leave some comments as to what they thing of the above evaluation, because I’m curious as to what direction other people thing this ship is heading. As for yesterday, I agree with you, Jason – if Pujols broke 74, it would be a big step in erasing Bondsie from the books. Justin, here’s the thing. Your Angels are in last place in the NL West. They’re 3 games behind the 2nd-to-last Mariners. They’ve won 3 games in their last 23. The last thing they need is for me to pile on. Besides, the Dodgers, I’m told, (since I have but a passing interest in the NL West,) are picking up steam. They’re better than some of their other division foes. In other words, they’re only 1 game back of the top, while the rest of the division is 2 games back. And, shock of all shocks, that division leader is just 25-19. If it happens again, I’ll kill someone. No joke.
In other news, it turns out that Jake Peavy hasn’t disappeared after all. Jake Peavy – who’s autograph I have sitting on a fantastic ball right next to me – fantastic, because it also has Phil Nevin, Brian Giles, Tim Stauffer, Geoff Blum, and Jerry Coleman. All on the same ball. Anyway, Peavy struck out 16 Braves tonight, allowing 3 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs. Both of the runs came in the 2nd off a Ryan Langerhans jack. And, of course, Peavy was saddled with the loss. Jake, maybe next time, if you go the full 9 instead of just 7, and you strike out 20, and walk none, and allow no hits – then, maybe, you’ll give your team a chance to win. No promises though.
Detroit beat KC again today, this time 8-0. Verlander went the distance, striking out 7 and walking one while allowing just 5 hits. Now, of course anyone will look good against the Royals. I would look good against the Royals, and that’s no joke. But still, Verlander now has a season ERA of 2.70. That’s right. Rookie of the Year? He’s got to be in the front of that race, especially if the Tigers do make it big this year. The Tigers are, right now, the hottest team in baseball. They are, quite possibly, even hotter than Albert Pujols. They’ve won 11 of their last 12.
Ricky Nolasco and his Florida Marlins beat the Cubs today, 9-1. Alright, that’s it. I said it earlier, but now I’m dead serious. The Cubs need to throw in the towel on this season, and make some deals. Start getting ready for next year. Right now, the Cubs are the worst team in the NL. They’re not as bad as the Royals, but they’re dang close. I mean, they’re breathing down their necks. But they’re worse than the Pirates, and they’re obviously worse than the Marlins as well. Have a great summer, Jim Hendry.
That about does it for now. Again, leave your comments regarding tonight’s post. See you guys tomorrow night.
Didn’t have the time to punch out a post last night and so tonight, with a light day in baseball, we’re going to cover two nights at once. Lucky treat. On the slate from last night: Scott Kazmir learns to throw – kinda, the Tigers have the best record in MLB, the Cubs are getting balls thrown at them, and Barry Bonds is forced to dodge bullets at the plate. As for tonight: Chris "The Liar" Duffy is bent that the Pirates sent him down to Triple-A. Meanwhile, the Reds are back to their old M.O. – losing games, a minor leaguer attempted to convince an umpire that he was hit by a pitch, while the Angels hand the Blue Jays a game.
Scott Kazmir learns to aim – well, at least he’s better at getting away with not doing so.
Now, Scott Kazmir of the Devil Rays has always – since his 2004 MLB Debut – had ‘good stuff.’ One problem, he can’t exactly tell that good stuff where to go. So he walks guys, a lot. In his first full season last year, he walked 100 batters while striking out 174 batters in 186 innings. He also had a 3.77 ERA and went 10-9 on a Devil Rays team. Anyway, Kazmir had a hot start last year, but he started off slow this year – and now he’s back. He’s 6-2 with a 2.73 ERA, 56 K’s and 20 BB’s. Despite the fact that he has given up 20 walks – still 3/5 off the pace he was running last year – his WHIP is a respectable 1.375. Not amazing, but pretty good. Especially when Randall is trotting out his shiny 2.00 WHIP in the last seven games or something.
When you have 4 wins in your last 19 games, people are gonna chuck stuff at you
Turns out, Life Without Lee is just as impossible as Cub fans thought it would be. That is, they can’t score runs, and their pitching is still unruly. But on Tuesday, things reached a new low. The Cubs won, 4-0, but that didn’t stop a "drunk woman" at Wrigley from slinging a ball at the struggling – I mean, bad – Jacque Jones. The ball missed and Jones escaped without harm. Here’s the thing, though. Jones is acting like it’s an isolated incident, and he "won’t let one incident ruin what I came here to do." But understand this – maybe most of Chicago won’t throw a baseball at your head. But most of Chicago is pissed that, while the team’s offense, pitching, defense, and baserunning are all in the tank, you’re being paid $16 million over three years for harming the team in three of those areas. You have a .264 avg, a .967 fielding percentage, and you just got doubled off that night and couldn’t even think of a post-game excuse for why. Here’s the deal; the Cubs are just bad this year. Again. We’ve talked about why, most recently on Tuesday.
Turns out, cheating doesn’t win you any friends.
Barry Bonds got nailed on Tuesday night, as we all know by now. I’ll forget, for a second, that it took Russ Springer five tries until he finally was able to hit Bonds. As I said last night, you might not like the guy, but that doesn’t mean you can cheer when a
pitcher intentionally hits him. The pitch that ended up hitting Bonds
was not that far from his head – see above for video. I’m the
last guy to stick up for Bonds, and fans can boo him if they don’t like
him. But it is not ok for a player to throw at Barry Bonds because he doesn’t like him, for whatever reason. Especially when you know – as Russ no doubt did – how it would be interpreted by the fans. That
is, with cheers. Retaliation is ok, to a point. But to throw a baseball at a guy because you don’t
like him – that’s assault, not sport.
The Tigers have the best record in MLB
Alright, if I’ve said it once I’ve said it 500 times – I knew the Tigers would be good, but I didn’t think they’d be this good. 27-13? The best record in MLB, 40 games into the season? 4, maybe. But 40? How? Well, tomorrow is my day off, so we’ll be taking an in-depth look at what’s going right for the Tigers. And then I’ll be attending the Tigers-Reds game tonight with Soifer and Kevin. But, for a look at a team where everything is going wrong…
Chris Duffy thinks his .194 average is too good for AAA
Well, besides the fact that .200 is the Mendoza Line which, by definition, is when it becomes not ok to be in the Major Leagues, Duffy might just be in the right here. But the Pirates disagree, and placed him in the Restricted List after Duffy decided not to report to AAA ball upon his demotion. Recall that Duffy single-handedly lost a game for the Pirates earlier this year, and not accidentally. That is to say, he told a fib, and he got in trouble for it. Of course, the kicker will come if Duffy announces that he is commencing Operation Shutdown because, hey, he’s never had to compete for an MLB job before, and if there’s competition, someone better let him know. If there’s competition, they should just eliminate him right now because he ain’t never hit in April or May and he never will. Next to the Royals and Cubs, no team has ever made losing this much fun. Ever.
Good, someone found the real Reds.
I was getting worried there for a moment. I thought the Reds might have been a legit good team. I still maintain that they’re not the "3rd worst team in baseball" as SI claims; far from it. The Reds might still be 4-6 in their last 10, just 2 games back of first, and have a 24-17 record – but the writing is on the wall. Well, let me have Bronson Arroyo, who lost to the aforementioned Pirates 7-2 last night, explain it to you:
I felt like I was embarrassed to get behind 4-1 early
in a game like that. It’s not a secret. They don’t
have a bunch of All-Stars in that lineup… I was embarrassed to be beaten by
those guys. That’s not to say you can’t be beat on any given day, but I
thought it was a horse (****) outing, especially against a team like
that. I mean, they are one of the weakest teams in baseball… This can’t
happen, period. If I can’t stand on the mound and feel comfortable
against that lineup, then something’s wrong with me.
Bronson… you do know that pitchers have to bat in the NL, correct? Strap on the elbow protector next time you step up to the plate against the Pirates next time. But the fun doesn’t stop here. Last night, the Reds finally went over on the Pirates to snap their 5-game losing streak. But, it didn’t start well. The Pirates jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the first, (sound familiar, Texas? Minnesota?) only to watch the Reds slowly chip away at that lead as the game wore on. Final score, 9-8, Reds. The AP’s Alan Robinson had this to say about the win: "The Cincinnati Reds seemed out of this one early… Then maybe they realized who they were playing." Basically, if you lose to the Pirates, someone is going to get after you for it.
You have to see this – "Unbelievable!"
Your team is down one run, in the third inning. You don’t know how else to get on base, so you think that maybe getting hit by a pitch is your best bet. Problem is, the ball has to actually hit you before you get that free base. And if the ump tells you that it didn’t hit you – while the fans confirm as much – you don’t have the right to threaten him. You’ve got to love College Baseball. It doesn’t look like Mr. Walker has much of anything under control here. Maybe the Cubs will draft him in the first round.
The Angels just handed a game to the Jays
The Angels had this game won. Bottom of the 9th, no outs, 4-4, Chone Figgins on 3rd base. You can’t lose, can you? Actually, you can, and they did. The Angels managed to get themselves out of that inning without scoring a run, and then the Jays came back to score 3 in the top of the 10th to pretty much seal the victory. I’m not going to watch the rest of the game, but I’m assuming the Jays will win. Of course, that’s what happens when you miss two chances with speedy guys on 3rd and less than 2 outs in the late innings. That also happens when you give the opposing team 5 outs in one inning, which happened when, A) the Angels 1B forgot to pick up the ball when he went to toss it to the pitcher covering the bag, who then collided with him and nearly knocked him down, and B) Vlad catches a routine pop up, but not really, as it rolls out of his glove. The entire night, the Angels gave the Jays every chance they could to win the game. You can’t do that if you want to win baseball games. Then again, the Angels haven’t been doing much of that lately, so it looks like we’re straight. UPDATE: Another ball just flew by Vlad in right field, allowing another run to score for the Jays, 8-4.
Thanks for reading. Sorry about the posting mix up last night. Devin – it’s good to see that you’ve finally got a blog. You’re one of the more frequent readers here on BHGM so that’s always a nice thing to see. I’ll check it out tomorrow. Your comment is reasonable – that Posada isn’t exactly over performing as he isn’t putting up mind-blowing numbers. I’m just saying that he won’t be able to keep that pace up for a whole year, because he hasn’t done so in the past, and he’s only gotten older. He won’t go into a major slump for the rest of the year, he just won’t produce at the level he’s doing so now. See you guys tomorrow.